Marvel’s final installment switches gears, jumps between multiple realms, timelines and character arcs, but bearing in mind that this crazy mayhem had to conclude years of universe building, “Avengers: Endgame” ends without the stomp I counted on.
“Avengers: Endgame” kicks things off right where “Avengers: Infinity War” left them.
After the galactic colossus Thanos (Josh Brolin) wiped out half of the universe’s population, the remaining Avengers – Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), War Machine (Don Cheadle), and Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) – try to get a hold of the current situation. The only viable (however extremely unpredictable) option is… time travel. Soon the dispersed team of superheroes goes back in time to prevent Thanos’ wrongdoings.
Without the slightest doubt, “Avengers: Endgame” was the movie of 2019 in the blockbuster category.
After bringing all the Marvel icons (and second-league names too) in “Avengers: Infinity War”, and cutting that squad in half, the studio left its strongest contenders to carry the rambunctious, emotional finale.
The result, helmed by Joe and Anthony Russo (two veterans who worked on “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, “Captain America: Civil War” and a few more Marvel titles), offers the usual standard equal to the previous installments. However, the nagging question is whether this is enough for the grand conclusion to a decade of superhero epic poems.
The big win of “Avengers: Endgame” is allowing this bunch of heroes shine equally.
The shifting protagonist creates an ethos of a fallen superhero, who needs to rise from the ashes like a phoenix. Each and every Avenger sees Thanos’ massive win as a personal fall, which quickly turns into a double-edged sword. On one hand, it allows the directing duo to often transfer the weight of the story from Avenger to Avenger, painting the large canvas with many characters. The other side, not so pretty, is that they all look kinda asshole-ish, cocksure to the extent that this old boys club doesn’t give a damn about the universe they’re actually saving.
Therefore, in their last breath, the Avengers look more selfish than ever before.
This is also reflected in some of the less convincing performances. Robert Downey Jr. seems clearly bored with Iron Man and whole Marvel, and with Chris Evans stoic “I’m sad now” mixed with “I’m something between sad and thinking heavily”, the two pillars look rather topsy-turvy.
On the bright side, there is Karen Gilan as Nebula, a by far most developed and interesting character in the squad of “Avengers: Endgame”. Gilan has spread her wings since her first appearance in “Guardians of the Galaxy”, turning the robotic daughter of Thanos into a sweet surprise. Nebula, along with Josh Brolin’s killer voice performance as Thanos constitute pinnacles in the film.
Character development aside, the story’s strong backbone is an entertaining twist on superheroes playing with the concept of “Ocean’s Eleven”. Trading a re-run of all-against-Thanos from “Avengers: Infinity War” for an action-packed heist movie was a brilliant step and smart solution to include almost every bigger character that stepped into the gargantuan universe of Marvel. And even though “Avengers: Endgame” runs for solid three hours, these offshore ideas like time travel and hot pursuits allow you to delve into the story.
Somehow lost in this great scheme are things that could elevate “Avengers: Endgame” to a much higher level of visual artistry – cinematography and soundtrack.
DP Trent Opaloch does his best to keep up with the grandeur of this final installment, but his effort is quickly deprived of flair. “Avengers: Endgame” is by all means fine, but given Marvel’s bonkers voyages like “Thor: Ragnarok”, this finale lacks its own visual soul. While there is a few eye-pleasing scenes and shots, the massively CGI-ed sets aren’t anywhere near groundbreaking. This criticism refers to the soundtrack as well. Composed by Alan Silvestri, it’s a baffling piece of film music, which never emerges from the cacophony of other sounds and dialogues. Some say that the best soundtracks are the ones you don’t hear in the film, but I highly doubt it’s the case of this particular composition.
Even as an once-in-a-blue-moon consumer of Marvel goods, I also missed some characters that made this universe so colorful. Although the choices were the result of the preceding film, I couldn’t help but miss Peter Quill and Spider-Man the most, and the newcomers like Captain Marvel (who was one of the worst Marvel standalone films ever) didn’t weigh in much to fill these gaps.
When “Avengers: Endgame” closed to an end, I have begun to wonder if this is the kind of film that Marvel could (and should) call it the final, most epic treatment of its beloved heroes.
There is enough substance to buy any film critic, and there is also lots of Easter Eggs, winks and moments that fans will cherish in years to come. But the years of build-up, intricately weaved web that brought life to an extensive universe, they all made a promise that’s hard to keep. And just as “The Dark Knight Rises” left a feeling of hunger after its iconic predecessor, the same goes for “Avengers: Engame” – a love letter to the fans, but not a film we will remember as the most fulfilling.
Avengers: Engame (2019)
Dir. Anthony & Joe Russo
Hate grade: 4/10
Click here to read about other big premieres that you should be looking forward to.
Header photo from tabletmag.